Prominent rights activist Xu Zhiyong freed from Chinese jail


File photo: Chinese rights advocate Xu Zhiyong speaks during a meeting in Beijing in this handout photo dated March 30, 2013.Xiao Guozhen/Handout via Reuters

Philip Wen and Natalie Thomas July 15, 2017 / 2:41 PM / 16 minutes ago

BEIJING (Reuters) – One of China’s most prominent rights activists was released by the authorities on Saturday after serving a four-year sentence that prompted international criticism, with his lawyer saying he hoped he would be allowed to live as a free man.

Xu Zhiyong, whose “New Citizens’ Movement” advocated working within the system to press for change, was detained in 2013 and subsequently convicted of “gathering a crowd to disturb public order”.

One of the group’s main demands had been for officials to publicly disclose their assets, a demand taken against the backdrop of the ruling Communist Party’s own efforts to crackdown on deep-seat corruption under President Xi Jinping.

Xu’s lawyer, Zhang Qingfang, told Reuters he had brought Xu up to speed with “events on the outside”, including the death of fellow activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Liu Xiaobo. He said Xu was “upset” upon hearing the news.

Zhang said Xu, who was released from his jail on Beijing’s outskirts on Saturday morning, was in good physical condition and had few immediate plans beyond spending time with family.

At the height of Xu’s activism, he attracted hundreds of supporters who participated in activities related to the movement, having first gained prominence in 2003 for helping victims of tainted baby formula and migrant workers without access to healthcare and education.

It prompted a crackdown from the Communist Party, which swiftly crushes any perceived challenge to its rule.

“The idea of the New Citizens Movement is not to overthrow, but to establish,” he wrote in a 2010 essay. “It’s not one social class displacing another social class, but allowing righteousness to take its place in China.”

Xu refused to defend himself in his 2014 trial, and remained silent as a way to protest what Zhang said was a controlled legal process where a guilty outcome was a foregone conclusion.

As international rights groups and foreign governments call for Chinese authorities to guarantee freedom for Liu Xiaobo’s widow, Liu Xia, Xu’s supporters have also expressed concern whether he will remain under close watch or effective house arrest. Some said on social media they were barred by security guards and plain-clothed officers from entering Xu’s apartment compound on Saturday.

Other high-profile and politically sensitive prisoners released from jail, including rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang and journalist Gao Yu, remain closely watched by Chinese authorities.

“I hope he will be completely free,” Zhang said.

Xu taught law at a Beijing university and ran in a local election. He became prominent over a drive to abolish “custody and repatriation” powers, a form of arbitrary detention used by local governments to sweep homeless people off the streets.

Editing by Ben Blanchard and Jacqueline Wong

Source: Reuters “Prominent rights activist Xu Zhiyong freed from Chinese jail”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China: New Citizen Movement Members Got 3.5-year Imprisonment


Police stand guard near the Haidian District Court in Beijing where the New Citizens' Movement activists were sentenced. Photo: AP

Police stand guard near the Haidian District Court in Beijing where the New Citizens’ Movement activists were sentenced. Photo: AP

(From left) Jailed New Citizen movement members: Ding Jiaxi, Zhao Changqing and Liwei. Photos: SCMP

(From left) Jailed New Citizen movement members: Ding Jiaxi, Zhao Changqing and Liwei. Photos: SCMP

According to Singtao Daily’s report yesterday, four members of the New Citizen movement were jailed for 2 to 3.5 years in a trial in Beijing yesterday.

Lawyer Ding Jiaxi, a major organizer of the movement, has actively fought for equal right of education. In 2012, together with Xu Zhiyong and others he took to the streets to demand officials making public their assets. He was arrested last April for that.

The verdict says Ding is convicted for disregarding state law, exploiting mass of people’s concern to gather a crowd to disturb public order, and resisting and hindering security officers in performing their duties.

Ding’s lawyer refuted and pointed out that Ding’s activities had not affected social order or traffics. The court accused Ding more of his ideas than his actions. He also criticized the court for failure to provide the original of it evidence or to give Ding time to speak whether he wanted to appeal.

Ding’s relatives and friends said that Ding looked haggard but remained in good spirit. Ding said that he was merely performing his duties as a citizen and hoped that other people would continue his work.

The other three members of the movement who were Ding’s codefendant in the case were also imprisoned. Among them Zhao Changqing got 2 year and a half imprisonment, while Li Wei and Zhang Baocheng got two years each. Previously, Xu Zhiyong the founder of the movement got 4-year imprisonment for the same “crime” of gathering a crowd to disturb public order.

Source: Singtao Daily “Members of the New Citizen movement jailed for 3.5 years”

Related posts:

  • China Rights Activist Xu Zhiyong Fights on with New Book despite Imprisonment dated April 12, 2014
  • China Sentences Legal Activist Xu Zhiyong to 4 Years in Jail dated January 26, 2014
  • Democracy, Rights Activist Xu Zhiyong Issues Defiant Statement during Court Trial dated January 23, 2014
  • China arrests activist who campaigned about leaders’ wealth dated August 25, 2013
  • China: Unusual appraisal of activists by state media dated August 25, 2013
  • China: Activist Xu Zhiyong smuggles video speech out of detention centre date August 8, 2013
  • China: Democracy activist Xu Zhiyong defiant despite pressure dated December 1, 2012

China Rights Activist Xu Zhiyong Fights on with New Book despite Imprisonment


Xu Zhiyong. Photo: Adam Sidman

Xu Zhiyong. Photo: Adam Sidman

Xu Zhiyong's book To Be A Citizen goes on sale in Hong Kong  now

Xu Zhiyong’s book To Be A Citizen goes on sale in Hong Kong now

Xu Zhiyong, a Chinese legal scholar and rights activist, was given a verdict of 4-year imprisonment for demanding in public officials to make public their assets. He appealed, but the court of appeal upheld the verdict and made it final.

Three years ago, Xu launched the New Citizen movement to organize public meetings to demand officials making public their assets and for equal rights of education.

Xu and other activists of his movement was arrested last July. In January, Beijing No. 1 Intermediate Court convicted him for the so-called crime of “assembling a crowd to disrupt order in a public place” and gave the verdict of 4-year imprisonment.

Xu appealed but failed. After the judge read the final verdict, Xu shouted in protest at the court, “Absurd verdict. It cannot hinder the trend of human progress! The dense cloud of autocracy will definitely be dispersed and the sunshine of freedom and justice will illuminate everywhere in China!”

Xu’s lawyer Zhang Qingfang said that perhaps the chief judge had a guilty conscience in making the verdict so that he did not rudely stop Xu, but allowed Xu to finish shouting.

Zhang said, “The upholding of the verdict is within our expectation. We are dissatisfied with the outcome, but we feel more regretted that the authority has given up the chance it originally had to correct its mistake.” The upholding of the verdict indicates that the authority would not relax its crackdown on civil movements.

To fight on, Xu Zhiyong published his new book “Uprightly Be a Citizen: My Free China” in Hong Kong yesterday. The book is an autobiography that describes his experience in fighting for civil rights and his vision of a China with the rule of law.

SCMP says in its report on the same incident, “Three other New Citizen activists went on trial this week – Ding Jiaxi and Li Wei on Tuesday and Zhao Changqing on Thursday – also for disturbing public order.”

It proves what I said in my book “Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements” about the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s Tiananmen syndrome.

In Chapter 1 of my book I begin with the popular Chinese saying that is often used as a metaphor to describe the persistent fear after a traumatic event: Once Bitten by a Snake, One Is Scared All One’s Life at the Mere Sight of a Rope.

“The attack that CCP suffered from Tiananmen Protests was like the bite of a snake, which threatened Party’s very survival. The protests led by Zhao Lianhai (founder of Home for Kidney Stone Babies, a concern group for victims of melamine-poisoned milk and also the activities led by Xu Zhiyong) though quite harmless like a rope compared with the “snake” the Tiananmen Protests, CCP was scared just as described by the Chinese saying that served as the first subhead: “Once bitten by a snake, one is scared all one’s life at the mere sight of a rope.” That was why CCP made such a show to humiliate and punish Zhao Lianhai. I would like to call this CCP’s Tiananmen Syndrome. It makes CCP suppress any mass protest whatever in order to prevent such protest from growing into one like the Tiananmen Protests that may threaten CCP’s monopoly of state power.”

Obviously, Xi Jinping has also been infected by that syndrome.

Source: Singtao Daily “Xu Zhiyong got the final verdict that upholds the 4-year imprisonment verdict” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)

Source: SCMP “Beijing court upholds guilty verdict against rights lawyer Xu Zhiyong”

Source: Chan Kai Yee “Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements”

Related posts:

  • China Sentences Legal Activist Xu Zhiyong to 4 Years in Jail dated January 26, 2014
  • Democracy, Rights Activist Xu Zhiyong Issues Defiant Statement during Court Trial dated January 23, 2014
  • China arrests activist who campaigned about leaders’ wealth dated August 25, 2013
  • China: Unusual appraisal of activists by state media dated August 25, 2013
  • China: Activist Xu Zhiyong smuggles video speech out of detention centre date August 8, 2013
  • China: Democracy activist Xu Zhiyong defiant despite pressure dated December 1, 2012

Persuading China’s Communists to Give up Power Is like Trying to Persuade a Tiger to Give You Its Skin


Democracy fighter Liu Xiaobo

Democracy fighter Liu Xiaobo

I once said that trying to persuade the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to give up its monopoly of state power is like trying to persuade a tiger to give you its skin. It is utterly impossible.

In my book “Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements”, I said “Due to its monopoly of power, CCP is a huge group of vested interest that includes not only 85 million CCP members but also those who are not CCP members but rely on the CCP for their employment, income, benefits and even assets, including lots of non-CCP public servants, soldiers, employees of state-owned enterprises, etc. The number of those people including their family members and close relatives exceeds one fourth of Chinese population according to my conservative estimate.”

That is why those who fight for multi-party democracy like Liu Xiaobo are imprisoned and why I have to publish my book on Tiananmen protesters’ tremendous achievements outside Chinese mainland.

However, there are still people so naïve as to think that Xi Jinping’s reform to save CCP from collapse will introduce some reduction of the pressure on the dissidents who try to reduce CCP’s monopoly of state power.

In its report titled “China jails man for seeking repeat of Tiananmen protest: Amnesty”, Reuters says, “Xi (Jinping)’s ascendancy in a once-in-a-decade generational leadership transition had given many Chinese hope for political reform, mainly due to his folksy style and the legacy of his father, Xi Zhongxun, a former reformist vice-premier.”

However the dream of those Chinese (the number of people in China who are so naïve as to have such dream is small) and in addition lots of people outside China, is broken as Reuters points out in the report, “since he (Xi Jinping) assumed office the party has detained or jailed dozens of dissidents, including anti-corruption activist Xu Zhiyong and ethnic Uighur professor Ilham Tohti.

That is simple. Xi was able to have such strong power to carry out his reform that harms lots of vested interests because he has the support of all the powerful elders behind him to save CCP from collapse by his reform. Do you think the elders will support Xi in reducing CCP’s monopoly of state power by allowing multi-party democracy? Xi is utterly impossible to do so even if he wants to.

The story of how Xi obtained all the powerful elders’ support for his reform is given in Chapter 15 “The Mystery of Xi Jinping’s Absence in September, 2012–Xi’s Inaction before and Xi Cyclone after Xi’s Mysterious Absence” of my book “Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements”.

However, Xi will carry out his political reform to develop democratic supervision, democratic decision making, democratic management and democratic election.

His mass line campaign aims precisely at the establishment of democratic supervision.

That is a vital step for democracy, without democratic supervision, there cannot be democratic election as election will be rigged by various means including buying votes as described in my post “China: Anti-corruption Storm Sweeps Parliament” on December 29, 2013.

Those who want democracy shall exploit the opportunities giver rise by his reform to achieve better rule of law, human rights and democracy within the allowed scope so that their voices will not be silenced and their actions will not be banned.

That is why I have never tried to publish my book on Tiananmen protesters achievements on the Chinese Mainland. I have to make great efforts to enable my voices to be heard and my actions effective.

I am confident that if we have wisdom and vision and make our efforts cleverly, we will be able to finally transform CCP and achieve democracy in China.

The following is the full text of Reuters’s report on Xi’s persecution of dissidents:

China jails man for seeking repeat of Tiananmen protest: Amnesty

China has jailed for 18 months a man who tried to stage a repeat of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protest, rights group Amnesty International said on Monday, in another sign of the ruling Communist Party’s intolerance of dissent.

Public discussion of the Tiananmen crackdown, in which rights groups say hundreds were probably killed, is still taboo in China.

Gu Yimin applied last May for permission to demonstrate on June 4, the 24th anniversary of the bloody crackdown in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, but the government rejected his application and arrested him.

A court in Changshu, in the eastern province of Jiangsu, found Gu guilty of inciting state subversion, Amnesty said in an email. Inciting subversion is a charge commonly levelled against critics of one-party rule.

Gu had also forwarded several photographs commemorating the movement on his microblog, including one that said: “By the expiry date of 2013, remove the Chinese Communists; on June 4, the city was slaughtered”.

In the statement, Anu Kultalahti, a China researcher for Amnesty, said: “Gu Yimin should be released immediately and unconditionally. Nearly 25 years on from the Tiananmen Square crackdown the authorities continue to stop at nothing to bury the truth of 1989.”

“Rather than ratchet up such persecution the authorities should acknowledge what really happened and deliver justice for the victims.”

Gu’s charge of suspicion of inciting subversion of state power was the first time it had been used since President Xi Jinping took office in March of last year.

The Communist Party has banned references in state media, the Internet and books, to the Tiananmen crackdown, leaving most young Chinese ignorant of the events of June 3 and 4, 1989, when the country’s leaders ordered troops to open fire on demonstrators and sent in tanks to crush a student-led movement.

Xi’s ascendancy in a once-in-a-decade generational leadership transition had given many Chinese hope for political reform, mainly due to his folksy style and the legacy of his father, Xi Zhongxun, a former reformist vice-premier.

But since he assumed office the party has detained or jailed dozens of dissidents, including anti-corruption activist Xu Zhiyong and ethnic Uighur professor Ilham Tohti.

Source: Chan Kai Yee’s Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements “However Eloquent, One Cannot Persuade a Tiger to Give One Its Skin”

Source: Reuters “China jails man for seeking repeat of Tiananmen protest: Amnesty”


EU, US denounce China’s arrests of activists


The United States and European Union (EU) accused China on Tuesday of using arrests and harassment to silence human rights activists, also voicing consternation at the death in custody of a prominent dissident.

During the debate at the U.N. Human Rights Council, China’s delegation responded that Cao Shunli had died in hospital last week of tuberculosis and that the Chinese people enjoyed the right to freedom of expression.

It also tried unsuccessfully to stop a speech by Ti-Anna Wang, daughter of Wang Bingzhang, a physician serving a life sentence for his role in overseas Chinese democracy movements.

Criticism of China is rare at the Geneva forum. Western states and activists took advantage of a catch-all agenda item to complain of violations by China, which is among its 47 member states this year.

“China has increased arrests, forced disappearances, and extralegal detentions of those who peacefully challenge official policies and actions, including Xu Zhiyong and Ilham Tohti,” said Peter Mulrean, U.S. charge d’affaires.

The Chinese government had increased Internet controls, media censorship, and continued to limit religious freedom, particularly in Tibetan and Uighur areas, he said.

“We note with profound sadness the recent death of Cao Shunli, an activist who urged independent civil society participation in China’s Universal Periodic Review process and was detained until recently,” Mulrean said.

China’s foreign ministry denied on Monday that Cao Shunli died because she was refused medical treatment while in detention.

Cao staged a two-month sit-in along with other activists outside the Foreign Ministry starting in June to press for the public to contribute to a national human rights report.

She went missing in mid-September after authorities stopped her from flying to Geneva for a human rights training programme ahead of an examination of China’s record known as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). She was arrested in October on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles”.

Greece, speaking on behalf of the EU, said it was deeply shocked by Cao’s death after her detention for “supporting the participation of independent civil society” in the U.N. review.

“We pay tribute to Ms. Cao Shunli and remind that her case is just one in a multitude of trials, convictions, detentions and house arrests of human rights defenders in China, and harassment of their relatives,” said Greece’s ambassador Alexandros Alexandris.

Nobel peace prize winner Liu Xiabo and Xu Zhiyong, members of the New Citizens Movement, are detained for peacefully advocating social justice, while Ilham Tohti is in jail for peacefully promoting the human rights of minorities, he said.

Source: Reuters “EU, U.S. denounce China’s arrests of activists”

Related posts

  • China Activist Hu Jia accepts he faces jail again after latest police questioning dated February 26, 2014
  • EU ‘seriously concerned’ about China crackdown on rights activists dated February 2, 2014
  • China Sentences Legal Activist Xu Zhiyong to 4 Years in Jail dated January 26, 2014
  • China arrests activist who campaigned about leaders’ wealth dated August 25, 2013

China Activist Hu Jia accepts he faces jail again after latest police questioning


Hu Jia

Hu Jia

Activist tells of interrogation over Twitter posts on sensitive issues and says he believes Beijing authorities are building evidence to arrest him

Veteran rights activist Hu Jia, who returned home in the early hours yesterday after being summoned by Beijing police on a charge of “provoking and stirring up trouble”, said authorities appeared to be collecting evidence against him for an arrest that will lead to a lengthy jail term.

Hu, who remains under house arrest, said police had warned him he could face a jail term of over 10 years should the authorities decide to take action.

“Yes, I could be arrested any time,” Hu said. “But I really have no fear at all.”

During nearly eight hours in custody, Hu said he was repeatedly interrogated about comments he posted on Twitter on a number of issues, including him calling for a rally in Tiananmen Square to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the 1989 military crackdown, urging people to wear masks to protest at Beijing’s bad air, and calling on fellow citizens to follow the example of Ukrainians to stand up to an unpopular government.

He said he was also questioned over his expressions of concern about the arrest of the Uygur scholar Ilam Tohti and the self-immolations in Tibet as well as his support for the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader.

Hu said he was also interrogated about his links to members of the Beijing house church Shengai, or Holy Love, Christian Fellowship. He had urged some members to rally outside court when Xu Zhiyong, founder of the New Citizen movement, and six fellow civil rights activists were put on trial last month.

Thirteen from the fellowship were put in criminal detention on January 24 and were only released this week.

One said yesterday police accused them of staging “illegal assemblies and demonstrations” as well as “provoking and stirring up trouble”. Police also interrogated her over Hu’s role in the protests in support of Xu.

Hu said the police interrogation this week, together with another 24-hour session one month ago on the same charge, appeared to be part of efforts to gather evidence to build a case against him.

He said he had to sign more than 260 printed pages of his own Twitter messages to admit he was the author. Hu said he had also taken part in more than 10 street protests in the past to call for officials to declare their assets.

Because of the wide range of issues he was involved in, Hu said the authorities could arrest him on a number of charges, including “subverting state power”, “provoking and stirring up trouble”, “assembling a crowd to disrupt order in a public place”, and even secession charges because of his support for causes in Tibet and Xinjiang.

Hu said that when he was summoned last month, a police officer told him his alleged crime was “much more serious” than Xu’s and he could receive a jail term three times longer than his. Xu was last month jailed for four years on the charge of “assembling a crowd to disrupt order in a public place”.

“It is intended as a warning and intimidation,” he said. “But none of this will have any effect on me.”

Hu insisted he had done nothing wrong, as mainland citizens had the right to demonstrate and express their views, although he was mentally prepared for possible arrest.

“In my life there is bound to be a second jail term – this is 100 per cent for sure. This is a choice I’ve made for my life and I’ll have no regrets,” he said.

Hu, 40, recipient of the European Parliament’s Sakharov human rights prize, was jailed for 3½ years in 2008 for “inciting subversion of state power” for his civil rights activism.

The Beijing Public Security Bureau did not respond to a faxed request for comment yesterday.

Source: SCMP “China Activist Hu Jia accepts he faces jail again after latest police questioning”

Related posts

  • EU ‘seriously concerned’ about China crackdown on rights activists dated February 2, 2014
  • China Sentences Legal Activist Xu Zhiyong to 4 Years in Jail dated January 26, 2014
  • Democracy, Rights Activist Xu Zhiyong Issues Defiant Statement during Court Trial dated January 23, 2014
  • China arrests activist who campaigned about leaders’ wealth dated August 25, 2013
  • China: Unusual appraisal of activists by state media dated August 25, 2013

Scores of activists go to eastern Chinese city to demand probe of suspicious death


Scores of activists from around China have been converging on an eastern town during the Chinese New Year holiday to demand an investigation into the death of a fellow activist’s father at a government building.

Activists are pointing to the outpouring as a sign of resilience in their movement despite a recent spate of court convictions cracking down on rallies by fellow members of loosely knit grassroots groups. They estimate 60 to 100 activists have gone to the Shandong province city of Qufu during a period usually devoted solely to family reunions.

“More of us should move from the Internet to real life and show the power we have as citizens,” Yang Chong, an activist who travelled from the southern city of Guangzhou to Qufu for the rally, said in a telephone interview.

The Qufu gathering was triggered by the sudden death of Xue Fushun, the father of Xue Mingkai, a dissident who has been jailed twice for his opposition to China’s one-party rule.

Friends and supporters say the elder Xue went to the prosecutors’ office building in Qufu to argue for his freedom after local authorities kept him and his wife detained in a guesthouse — a common tactic to quell dissent by also targeting the relatives of dissidents. He fell to his death from the building’s fourth floor on Jan. 29.

Police ruled the incident a suicide and declined to investigate the death further. The family’s lawyers and supporters say the death is suspicious and are demanding an unbiased investigation.

“He was seeking freedom from state security, and how on earth would he want to kill himself?” Beijing-based rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong said.

A worker at a Qufu police station said he could not reveal more details because the case is under investigation, but he confirmed that many supporters of Xue’s family had visited the police station. He refused to give his name, as is common among government workers when speaking about sensitive cases. A man who answered the phone at the Qufu government said Friday he had no knowledge about the case.

The first grassroots activist arrived on Jan. 31 in Qufu, known as the hometown of the ancient Chinese educator Confucius. More arrived in the ensuing days, eventually numbering at least 60 and forming an impromptu citizen watchers group, according to interviews with six of them.

The visits began just days after the conviction and sentencing of Xu Zhiyong, the Beijing-based founder of the New Citizens Movement, to four years in prison for taking part in small public rallies, amid a broader crackdown on dissent. Several other members of the movement, as well as a key member of a Guangzhou-based group called Southern Street Movement, also were put on trial last month.

Many of the activists showing up in Qufu are from the Southern Street group, but they have been joined by other activists based elsewhere.

They say they have been rounded up, interrogated by police and sent away on trains, although many have managed to get off the trains and stay in the vicinity.

“The government tries to create fear, but as an awakened citizen, I must go forward even if there is fear,” said Ou Biaofeng, who travelled from the southern province of Hunan to join the Qufu rally.

Source: The Windsor Star, The Associated Press “Scores of activists go to eastern Chinese city to demand probe of suspicious death”

Related posts:

  • China Sentences Legal Activist Xu Zhiyong to 4 Years in Jail dated January 26, 2014
  • Democracy, Rights Activist Xu Zhiyong Issues Defiant Statement during Court Trial dated January 23, 2014
  • China arrests activist who campaigned about leaders’ wealth dated August 25, 2013
  • China: Unusual appraisal of activists by state media dated August 25, 2013
  • China: Activist Xu Zhiyong smuggles video speech out of detention centre date August 8, 2013
  • China: Democracy activist Xu Zhiyong defiant despite pressure dated December 1, 2012